Fresh from the garden

IMG_7019More garden goodness! I harvested my garlic! One of the most fun things to do in the garden. And pulled up the onions. Again, very fun task in the garden. I’m drying them out in the greenhouse, but I think I need to cover the garlic. Does it need to cure in the dark? IMG_7212My greenhouse smells like a town in Italy, though. Heavenly! And check out these carrots! I’ve never grown such nice ones before. (although it strikes me that perhaps I say that every year?) IMG_5904These are tasty! The kids have been eating them right out of the ground, after a quick brush off. And a couple of my cute garden workers! IMG_6623IMG_6630

By the moon

IMG_4781The almanac told me that yesterday was a good planting and transplanting day so I spent the morning in the greenhouse and garden. Do you like my new light set-up? I didn’t order any seeds this year (except for spinach ;)), so I had some garden money set aside and found this for sale for a great price. I love that the lights can be lowered or raised so easily! I’ve got some little cabbages and brussel sprouts under there. This year, I started seeds a little differently. I’m always trying something new, seeing how it works. I filled plastic trays (like you buy lettuce in from the store) with dirt (from the pig pen) and just sprinkled my seeds on top. Then I closed the lid to keep in moisture until they germinated. Once the little seedlings had a couple true leaves, I lifted up a bunch of them with a spoon, disentangled their roots, VERY CAREFULLY!, and transplanted them into larger cups filled with really loose soil. IMG_4780Surprisingly, a cuticle pusher tool came in really handy! It is metal with a little scoop at the end and it was perfect for supporting the little seedlings and depositing them into their new home, while pushing away the soil to make room for them. I’ve got a fan by the grow light system for better air circulation and to help the stems get nice and stong.  This method of starting seeds didn’t cost me anything, so it’s very economical. I’ve also started tomatoes and peppers. I put those seeds into a little tray with a lid that I used last year and I didn’t cover the seeds with soil at all, but with vermiculite. Vermiculite is a super light medium that serves to keep in moisture and prevent the seeds from floating away when watering. I shouldn’t have to water these, though, until the baby plants push up through the vermiculite.IMG_4783 I also direct sowed some things into the garden. Onions, beets and carrots were planted under the trellises. I simply raked back some wood chips, sprinkled the seed, and loosely threw some chips back on, to keep in the moisture. I also put in spinach, chard and lettuce in my new garden box. Today is rainy and overcast, so I’m glad the little seeds are getting a good watering.IMG_4788

Growing up

IMG_2253The seedlings in the greenhouse are looking good! Even more warming to my heart is watching my children excited to check on their own little plants growing in there.IMG_2251 They have each planted seeds and take great satisfaction from watching them sprout and grow strong. I love to see their excitement! IMG_2252They have been busy prepping their garden boxes behind the greenhouse. Filling them with manure, old straw and old potting soil. These kids are such fun to be with and work with. The world, the garden, life in general is more exciting when seen through their eyes. IMG_2257Call it voodoo if you will, but these soil blocks were planted with lettuce seeds last week on a day that the almanac said was a poor planting day. Look! Nothing is coming up. Barley a few sprouts in the far box. Could have been old seeds. Could have been too warm. Could have been too cold. But nontheless, I will always check farmersalmanac,com in the future before planting.

I’m so bluuuueee

IMG_2119While cleaning out the greenhouse I was packaging up some heirloom dent corn that I grew for the animals. I also came across these beautiful blue ears of dent corn that was gifted from a friend. The cobs take up so much room so the kids and I de-cobbed it.IMG_2120 I plan to use it for cornmeal, grinding it in the wheat mill. And for feeding the animals. I have a lactating, bred cow that will love the extra energy from it. And of course, save some for growing this summer. It was a lot of work. My thumb had a blister the size of dime by the time we finished. But I hear tell it makes delicious cornbread!IMG_2133

Spring cleaning

Not the house, actually. But the greenhouse. My little seedlings need more sunlight than they are getting in the house. So I headed up to the greenhouse to see how it had fared over the winter. Not too well, my friends, not too well. IMG_2115Jeremie was gone for the weekend and I love to tackle a project in his rare absences. So the troops got rounded up and gloves were donned and we dove in head first. It really wasn’t too bad. Once all the garbage was thrown away. The first thing Jeremie said to me when he returned home was, “how much of my stuff did you throw away?”. I was very nice this time. I didn’t throw anything of his away and I even kept the garbage bags at the scene of the crime in case he wanted to go through them and salvage something “valuable”. With all the kids help, we wrapped it up before lunch. What a happy space this is now. I have a handy table for starting seeds and planting things. A wire shelf for seedlings and a plastic shelf for storage. On the south side of the wall I hope to have some self watering grow tables built so we can enjoy fresh veggies all winter long.IMG_2118The sun keeps it nice and warm, even on overcast days. My cold season plants are happy on their shelf. And what’s this??!! Oh, my. Jeremie bought me something fabulous…grow lights! I had been using fluorescent lamps but these lights will be better for growing actual vegetation, when I get some grow tables built. IMG_20160213_130030246_HDR

Around the farm…

Beautiful Holly Tree

Beautiful Holly Tree

Winter weather welcomes it’s own worries. Frozen water. No grass. Frozen water. Less daylight hours. Frozen water. Snow. Frozen water. Animal shelters. Frozen water. Did I mention it’s a real pain when the hoses freeze and the animal waterers freeze? We welcomed our first Arctic blast this last week, with weather down into the teens. Now this coming week we are enjoying a balmy 60 or so degrees. Only once did my hairdryer get taken outside to defrost the water.IMG_4650 These pigs are enjoying the leftovers from our fall decorations. We’ve got some heritage breed Berkshire hogs in with our Guinea Hog boar hoping for a tasty cross-breed. We purchased a Berkshire girl from some friends and we have another Berkshire girl left over from the fair crop. They are the pigs with the pink markings. Berkshires are a much sought after breed because their meet is so tasty and lean. We may call the next generation of crosses Guineashire. What do you think? Clover is looking pregnant and content. IMG_4631She should deliver her first calf in early spring. I couldn’t be more excited. Chickens have still been earning their keep. IMG_4623Not as many eggs as usual, but decent. Jeremie hopes to install a light in their coop to encourage more laying. With the shorter daylight hours and colder weather, the number of eggs we gather diminishes dramatically.IMG_4627 Or maybe it’s just that we can’t find them. They like to hide them in the hay that is stacked in the barn. IMG_4636Not much is growing in the garden these days. IMG_4633Some kale that I grow for green smoothies, the chickens and cows. Some cabbage for raw sauerkraut.IMG_4635 I have many rows of carrots and beets that just get sweeter with the colder temps. We will be roasting a lot of them for our Thanksgiving feast. And lookie here!!! More wood chips!!!IMG_4644 I about died of happiness when the wood chip guy drove into our driveway.I will spread these at my leisure whenever some space opens up in the garden. If they don’t get stolen and spread in the orchard in the meantime!  IMG_4645This is the last batch of bunnies we will harvest this winter. We are running them in a tractor through the front pasture. We have about a dozen in there. They are due to expire in the coming week. Their pelts should be beautifully thick for Charlotte and Tommy to tan. While the frozen water is always a chore, it’s nice to be enjoying a slower pace during the winter on the farm. Nothing too pressing needing to be done, except the greenhouse. 😉IMG_4642

What we’ve been up to…

timberlee 155

It’s quite the mess in there.

Working on the greenhouse. I feel like winter is just around the corner and I know I’ll be wanting to start some seeds in here soon. The animals have wreaked havoc on the siding so Jeremie has a lot of mending to do. And he is adding glass to the east side which should let it a lot more light. I have set a deadline for November 1 for it to be arranged such as that I can at least walk in there. Now that I’ve made that deadline public, perhaps there will be more pressure to complete the project? No nagging allowed.

Benja measuring boards for daddy.

Benja measuring boards for daddy.

Knitting again… I feel the nibbles of a knitting bug. Perhaps he only comes out in cooler weather? I love this little Milo sweater. This cute grey number is for a friend’s baby, hopefully arriving soon!

sweater

Helping out friends, selling soap at the farmer’s market. Girls manning the booth, so the mama’s could go to a “coffee meeting”.index

Maude, being a lazy bum! But we love her..timberlee 169Life has been a whirlwind of activity since we came home from camping. Friends, meeting, trips to Jackson, work, butchering, gardening. I feel like we jumped back into real life with 2 feet and a major splash!

Aqua Phonics?

Aquaponics. It is hydroponics plus fish. In hydroponics you grow food without dirt and add nutrients to the water. In aquaponics you put fish in a tank, feed them, they produce nutrients in the water and you pump the water into the grow bed for the plants, the plants filter out the nutrients and the clean water returns to the fish tank.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xp5Bl67mOw4 at about 5:23 it shows a system like ours will be. Rob Bob is my hero. I love all his videos.

Tommy and I went to Farmers Coop and got some IBC totes. We cut them up and cleaned them out and put them in the greenhouse. Now we have to get some PVC piping and a couple of small pumps.

I think we will use crushed glass for the grow bed gravel.

I hope I can get some walleye to grow. Tommy and I love fish. Molly does not like fish, so we may have to learn how to cook fish.

strawberries in the winter will be nice also.

We made four sets. But only 3 will fit in the greenhouse so we gifted one to our friend Quinn.